I remember from when I was barely ten years old that I asked my father what is important in life. He then replied that it is good to travel because you can carry your memories to the grave. Rather serious words, if you think about it. Since I grew up in the countryside, the church has always been a natural meeting point for people in the village. Nothing strange, or in any way, overly religious about it. Therefore, my father’s answer felt natural and I didn’t think more about it.
Before the pandemic took hold, I had traveled quite a lot and I am happy about my journeys. I have been able to remember my travels and people I have met, during the years with the coronavirus. Today the pandemic is over, but then the war started. We are still reminded of Covid 19. However, it seems that common respiratory infections are starting to take over. However, the infections are no longer a public health emergency. Instead, the world’s eyes are on Ukraine, which has, somehow, become the new Vietnam.
When I visited my friend in Sri Lanka a few years ago, she recommended Nuwara Eliya with tea plantations. Sri Lanka has long been known for its delicious tea. Compared to tea plantations in Malaysia, tea production in Sri Lanka is much more industrial. Cameron Highlands in Malaysia was difficult to access, but it was also a bumpy road by bus to Nuwara Eliya. The British spirit felt very present in Sri Lanka.
I spent a whole day visiting different tea plantations in Nuwara Eliya. The area was very reminiscent of various vineyards found in France with chateaux. At the last tea plantation of the day, it was time for afternoon tea. Perhaps this was the most international tea plantation because there were flags from all over the world much similar outside the United Nations building in New York. During the guided tour, I ended up in the same group as a Danish family. They rented a small bus and traveled around Sri Lanka by themselves. The tour of the tea plantation ended with afternoon tea. Although I love chocolate, I could resist a chocolate cake with my tea. I just wanted to have a cup of tea. I captured an eternal photo that you can see above with the Danish family. The Nordic countries were united in a successful afternoon tea. The Danish family traveled on and I continued and visited my friend and her family in Colombo.
Summer is almost here in Sweden. The dark time of the year is over. Every season has its charm. Instead of tea, I will have fruity smoothies over the summer, but then, when autumn takes hold, I look forward to lighting candles and having tea again. With chocolate cake!
I have been to the UK quite a few times. Mainly in London, but also some in the countryside. A friend of mine lived in England for a few years for work and studies, and I had the opportunity to visit her. London is vibrant and, above all, you feel that it is a world city. All cultures are somehow gathered there and everyone wants to meet.
About 15 years ago I made a trip to Malaysia. I had heard about the Cameron Highlands where there are tea plantations in the mountains. I wanted to go there. They weren’t exactly easy to get to, but I remember sitting in an old bus driving on winding roads through the mountains to a valley where the tea plantations were. It was hot on the coast, but cool in the mountains. On the bus, it was just me and a French family. They had taken time off from their jobs and chosen to travel with their three little young children for a year. The parents were relaxed and the children played with dolls and cars during our journey. Unaware of the beautiful nature and steep slopes.
When we arrived, we said goodbye to each other. In the small village with the tea plantations there was a calm. I found a small shelter where I spent the night. The next morning, I got up early to attend a tour of the tea plantations. It was chilly. People from surrounding countries were there picking tea leaves. The plantation was reminiscent of vineyards. I remember tasting my first cup of tea after the guided tour. It was very popular with guided tours, but I managed to find a spot overlooking the green valley. I sat with my cup of tea and found a calm that I can still think of and that I always carry with me. There was a big difference between the tea I drink at home compared to the tea I had at the plantation.
I bought a small package of tea with me. Since I was traveling, I couldn’t carry too bulky packages with me. Back home, and on well-chosen occasions, I had my cup of tea from Malaysia. When the 15 bags were gone, I couldn’t throw away the box. There was a picture of the valley on the packaging where I had had my almost sacred tea time. I still have the empty package in my kitchen even though it is empty.
My friend then moved from London to Sri Lanka where there also are tea plantations. I was lucky enough to be able to visit her and her family. She shared tips about fine tea plantations in Sri Lanka. The UK is strongly linked to Sri Lanka, and I am delighted to have been able to experience both countries up close. This weekend a new king is crowned in Great Britain. His mother passed away last year, and before her passing a jubilee was held for the Queen. By chance, I happened to see this little film. Tea, and sweet, sweet Paddington.
This weekend, spring becomes official because it is the traditional Valborg in Sweden. SMHI (weather forecast) is, however, preparing us for some snowflakes next week in Stockholm. That is why I’m thinking about summer instead. I don’t want any more snow, I am longing for summer. The sun is fantastic, but one must not forget that it also can be harmful. Moderation is what one should relate to regarding most things in life.
This semester I have started swimming again. Of course, I wish I had salty splashes instead of chlorine. As usual, I follow the news in the world, and to my surprise, I read that somewhere in the world’s oceans, there is an area of garbage that has accumulated to three times the size of Sweden. Mostly plastic. In Sweden, we are approaching 11 million inhabitants. Instead of writing how the mountain of garbage should be removed, it was described how certain animal species have begun to live in symbiosis with the trash. Why not instead unite forces to remove this artificial island? Is it due to the war in Ukraine?
My training continues. Cycling, strength training, swimming, walking, yoga, and so on. In the countryside, I go for walks with Molly, and recently I have been able to borrow a dog in Stockholm as a walking companion. I don’t know why, but I have to have company on walks. I can go jogging myself, but not walking. Jogging has to wait until SMHI’s snowflake warning sign is gone.
Spring arrives this weekend. I have herring in the refrigerator and will see if I can find some potatoes and dill. For the spring and summer’s first herring lunch. Summer is soon here, Happy Valborg!
Sometimes I don’t understand myself. Yesterday was Friday, and late in the afternoon I suddenly had a craving for chili peppers and pasta. Why this sudden desire? I remembered I had shrimp in the fridge, and it is usually good to combine with chili. All said and done, I quickly procured garlic, chili peppers, shallots, and parsley. I had extra virgin olive oil and cherry tomatoes at home. Cooking pasta doesn’t really take that long, nor does sautéing the other ingredients, which are then combined with the pasta into a well-balanced blend. What takes time is chopping the ingredients. I chose the mildest red chili. I didn´t dare take a chance. Exactly. When I started chopping the chili, I started to cough. Everything took about 60 minutes to prepare and cook, but it was definitely worth my Friday evening: TGIF. Today, I have my usual exercise, and it feels good to have loaded up on carbohydrates. Perhaps, is that the answer why my sudden desire?